Gluten Free Hotel Stay: Barcelo Valencia, Spain

Writing hotel reviews on this blog is not something that I normally do. Why? Well, in many cases one very good hotel is very much like another very good hotel. Yes there’s usually a USP that sets it apart from its peers. However, in many cases I don’t feel I learn something from bloggers writing reviews of hotels that – for the most part – I couldn’t learn from looking at the hotel’s website.

So that’s exactly why I am writing a review on the Barcelo Valencia.

Because I just didn’t know from the website how suitable this hotel would be for my needs as a traveller with dietary restrictions who is also travelling with small kids.

Location
The Barcelo Valencia is located directly opposite the Valencia’s City of Arts and Sciences. You can read all about the scientific and cultural space which is housed within the modernist City of Arts and Sciences here. There’s one busy road to cross but then you’re within the park.

City of Arts and Science Valencia

Following a catastrophic flood in 1957, Valencia’s river Turia was diverted and the old riverbed turned into a park which winds its way through Valencia. We thoroughly enjoyed walking through this park and the kids loved being out of the buggy in a safe, car free green space. They also loved that there seemed to be a playground spaced approximately every 5 minutes….!

Just over the road from the Barcelo Valencia hotel is also a great little playground for kids.

Food
Our usual pattern for food when travelling with the twins has been to have a main meal all together at lunchtime in whichever city / location we’re in. We find it easier to find something suitable for all of us this way. In the evenings, if everyone is tired after a day sightseeing then we get a picnic type tea for the kids to eat in the room. Mr D and I will often order something from room service after the kids have gone to bed. Consequently, I often enquire at hotels for a copy of the room service menu before making the room reservation to check there are gluten free options for me.

On this occasion I contacted Barcelo Valencia before booking. A room service menu was sent to me. Nothing was explicitly noted as gluten free on the menu but since there were fish / meat / veggie options it looked good.

What I did not know until we got there was that they had plenty of gluten free options.

They even had Daura gluten free beer in the restaurant and bar and consequently I could have ordered this on room service. We ate a couple of times in the hotel restaurant. I particularly enjoyed this burger, served with gluten free baguette (!).

I’m not a big hotel breakfast eater and we often choose to stay in an apartment instead of a hotel for this reason alone. However, the breakfast here was really something special.

I’m struggling to remember a time recently where I have stayed in a hotel offering such fresh and excellent quality ingredients. Beautiful fresh fruit, good quality hams and cheeses.

The pungent blue cheese was cut in huge chunks and truly excellent; the chunk in the photo was the smallest piece offered! On the hot plates were bacon, sausages (I didn’t eat them so not sure if they were gluten free), eggs, roasted Mediterranean vegetables, tortilla….the list goes on. Each item was topped up regularly so they never ran out.

For gluten free diners I was given a huge selection of breads, biscuits and muffins when I asked if they had any gluten free items. There were also biscuits on this plate but they had been swiped by the time I took the photo.

Room
We booked a two bedroom suite – there are 2 suites in this hotel. The suite was huge because in addition to the 2 separate bedrooms – each with en-suite bathroom with massive baths – was a (small-sish) lounge and a further, third, guest toilet. All the doors were the sliding variety so the space could be opened up. The only downside was that the windows were quite high up so you couldn’t see out of them unless you stood up. Shame when there was a great view out of the window!

What else to know?
Joining the hotel’s loyalty programme (Barcelo has hotels throughout Spain) provides various incentives including room discounts and/or late checkout. As members of this loyalty scheme, we were received a discount on the room cost, free bottles of water and sweets (which I managed to swiftly swipe) in our room along with a credit towards items bought in the hotel.

There is free wifi throughout the hotel.

There’s also a great looking spa – complete with outdoor pool for the summer months – up on the top floor of the hotel. Finally, there’s also a rooftop bar overlooking the City of Arts and Sciences which would be perfect place to enjoy a sun-downer. Sadly I didn’t get a chance to use these on this trip but I’ll have to come back!

This is NOT a sponsored or affiliated post in any shape or form. I stayed here, I really liked the hotel and wanted to share this information in case you are planning to visit Valencia and are looking for a good hotel with gluten free and family friendly options.

Address: Hotel Barcelo Valencia, Av. de França, 11, 46023 València, Spain

Click here for the hotel’s website.

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Gluten free hotel stay Valencia Spain

 

Went – Ate – Loved: February 2017

Went
Even for the shortest month of the year, February seems to have whizzed by in a blur of intensity and stress at starting a new project at work. I end the month suffering from the horrid lurgy (10 days so far and counting) everyone seems to have succumbed to recently. Not ideal when so much of my job involves talking.

Luckily, preceding the sickness was a long weekend trip to Valencia. This Spanish city has been on my travel wish list for so long and I was excited to finally visit. And it was certainly worth the wait!

Central market Valencia

In truth, with the exception of the central market, I wasn’t bowled over by Valencia’s historical centre.

Central market Valencia

What I really loved was the area close to where we stayed which was home to the City Of Arts and Sciences. I’ll post separately in the coming weeks on the things we enjoyed in Valencia and also where we stayed. I think I’ve only posted on one previous occasion about a hotel I’ve stayed in (and that was also in Spain) but for the gluten free and/or family traveller we found a great hotel.

City of Arts and Science Valencia

And what we all absolutely loved was walking through the park in Valencia which winds its way along the course of the diverted river. The trees were laden with oranges – impossible to resist!

Valencia oranges

Walking was super safe for kids with no cars, there seemed to be a playground every 5 minutes and plenty of cafes too.

Roll over Barcelona, Valencia is where it’s at!

Ate
Following my birthday in January, Mr D gets to celebrate his in February. We went to Chez Bruce for dinner as we have done many times in the last 14 (eeek!) years together. Yes, it’s Michelin starred but more than that it’s exactly the kind of restaurant you’d want on your doorstep to celebrate a special day in…or just because you can. High end cooking in unpretentious surroundings using great ingredients and one of the best cheese boards in London, I’ve never failed to have a great meal here. On this occasion, the highlight for me was this white chocolate and rhubarb Vienetta.

So good – for the only time of visiting Chez Bruce – it tempted me away from the delights of the cheeseboard.

Loved
February saw the opening of the Hockney retrospective at Tate Britain. I’m relatively recent fan of Hockney following his show at the Royal Academy in 2012 and after visiting family Saltaire. Saltaire is home to an exhibition of Hockney’s work along with Salt’s Mill which features in a number of his paintings.

We were lucky as Tate members to visit a private view of the exhibition (on Valentine’s Day no less!) and thoroughly enjoyed dinner with friends in the Rex Whistler restaurant at Tate Britain.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Hockney inspired menu and was impressed that despite not giving prior warning of my dietary restrictions they catered for me expertly. I’d eaten here previously and was confident they would adapt the menu to be gluten and nut free.

Take this starter. The regular version contained wheat (not corn) containing nachos. The kitchen adapted it with no prior notice to have Parmesan crisps in place of the wheaty nachos.

Gluten free Tate Britain

Gluten free bread was also available.

If you’re in London and would like to visit an exhibition which you’ll leave smiling, Hockney at the Tate is the one for you!

This month I’ve not had much time to catch up on blogs but these posts have caught my eye:

This guide from Erin of the gluten free fast food options in New York. I think it’s important when travelling with both dietary restrictions and young children to have a back up list of safe options to eat at quick meal at.

I’ve recently started following Forever Amber blog and this post on fake Instagram comments and followers was interesting. Naively I thought people were just buying followers, I didn’t realise there were people paying for bots to leave comments and thus drive up engagement with their accounts. Like I say, naive.

And finally, whilst not specifically about gluten free places, I loved Bronwyn’s post which showcases some real gems in South London.

Gluten Free London: Beyond Bread

Beyond Bread is a dedicated gluten free bakery with (currently) 2 branches in London. To date, I’ve only visited the Charlotte’s Place location.

On the first occasion I had a gluten free chocolate muffin to takeaway which was perfectly nice although a little dense inside. On the second occasion, I wanted to eat in and so had lunch at Charlotte’s Place.

Beyond Bread London gluten free quiche

This time I chose the quiche with a spinach and mushroom salad along with a cinnamon bun. Since it was a cold day, I took a tea as well.

Beyond Bread London gluten free quiche

The cost was £14.85 for the above.

The pastry on the quiche was firm and not at all crumbly. The cinnamon bun was good and I enjoyed this.

Beyond Bread London gluten free cinnamon bun

At the end of my lunch I asked whereabouts the toilets were. I was somewhat astonished to discover there is no toilet available to use at Charlotte’s Place.

Repeat: There is no customer toilet here. This is a cafe with – I guess – around 15 seats and there’s no bathroom for customers to use. Instead I was directed to use the facilities of other local businesses, something I declined to do.

Perhaps this seems like a negative thing to include in a blog post. Maybe it seems unnecessary to point out the lack of toilet facilities? But in all the blog posts I’ve read about this Beyond Bread location, I’ve never seen this highlighted before. Perhaps even this is a new thing? I don’t know. But I’m pointing this out as I wish I’d known in advance of visiting.

Locations: 2 Charlotte Place, London W1T 1SB and 267 Upper Street, London N1 2UQ
Website: www.beyondbread.co.uk
Cost: £ 14.85 for the meal above
Would I come back: Honestly? I think the food on offer here is good quality and I value the opportunity to eat at a dedicated gluten free bakery. However, I’m not sure I would go out of my way to visit again. I thought what I ordered was tasty but a little overpriced (I fully appreciate the cost of the Fitzrovia location is factored in to the prices here). However, the situation with no customer bathrooms will likely put me off from revisiting. I work in a different part of London so would ordinarily be looking to eat in at Beyond Bread when I’m in the West End, rather than takeaway. For me, it’s not a particularly appealing lunch knowing that I’ll need to find a public convenience to use after my lunch as the restaurant does not provide one.

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Beyond Bread London gluten free Restaurant

Gluten Free Travel Tips: Gothenburg, Sweden

First of all, this post is not a gluten free guide to Gothenburg (after 3 days in the city, I couldn’t claim to write a proper guide). Rather, it’s a collection of tips, resources and places I ate which might help another gluten free visitor to Gothenburg.

Resources & Tips – The Local Guides
Before I visited Gothenburg I contacted two locals for assistance. Virginia runs the Kusten ar Klar blog. She was incredibly helpful to me both prior to my trip and whilst I was there. I highly recommend you check out her map for listings of gluten free dining options in the city. On Virginia’s blog you can find maps not just for Gothenburg, but also other Swedish cities with list of gluten free restaurants, cafes and bakeries.

I also contacted the Swedish Coeliac Society who had been incredibly helpful on my previous trips to Sweden. They provided me with a list of restaurants in Gothenburg.

Resources & Tips – Where We Ate
At the excellent Universeum museum, gluten and lactose free pancakes were on the menu and the staff cook them up fresh upon request & separately. The meatballs and mash here are also gluten free.

Gluten free Gothenburg Universeum

As in other countries in Scandinavia and continental Europe, MacDonald’s offers gluten free buns in Sweden. Two adult meals and two kids meals here cost under £20 in total. By far the cheapest meal we had in Gothenburg.

Gluten free Gothenburg MacDonalds

At our hotel (see below) I enjoyed this venison dish in the hotel restaurant. This was delicious and made a change from that great gluten free fall back meal option of steak and chips, which I ate the following night.

Gluten free Gothenburg Radisson hotel

O’Leary’s (a chain of sports bars found all over Sweden) offer gluten free options including gluten free buns. Our flight back to London was delayed and we ate at the branch at the Landvetter airport. Their website has a nutritional guide and I found the waitress to be knowledgeable.

Gluten free Gothenburg Airport

Resources & Tips – Where We Stayed
We stayed at the Radisson Blu Scandinavia, opposite the central Station. I’ve stayed in other Radisson properties in Norway and Sweden and have always found good gluten free options on offer in this hotel chain. Top 14 allergens were listed on the room service menu which I’ve seen listed in other countries through continental Europe and I wish we had the same simple system in the UK. At breakfast there was an “Allergy Corner” complete with wrapped Fria crumpet like bread.

Gluten free Radisson hotel

There was even a dedicated gluten free toaster (note the sign!) right next to it.

Gluten free Radisson hotel

Resources & Tips – Where we Shopped
I found gluten free products in the Gothenburg supermarkets I visited but the range really varied by size of supermarket. The smaller supermarkets seemed to have a limited (or no) supply but in one of the bigger supermarkets, was this fantastic selection!

Gluten free Gothenburg supermarket

I was particurlarly happy to find some delicious Semper gluten free gingerbread biscuits which my kids (who are not gluten free) loved.

In the freezer section were loads of different products and you would be well catered for if you were staying in an apartment in Gothenburg rather than a hotel.

Gluten free Gothenburg supermarket

Resources & Tips – How We Got There
We flew to Gothenburg with Norwegian. I’ve flown with this low cost airline a few times before and I really rate their high quality customer service, fleet of new planes, free in-flight wifi and a gluten free AND nut free options on board.

Gluten free Gothenburg Norwegian

Final Gluten Free Tips for Gothenburg:
• Many gluten free products in Scandinavia contain codex wheat starch. Please keep this in mind when eating out or shopping if you are sensitive to codex wheat starch
• The restaurants and cafes we visited were very clued up on gluten free options, all had nutitional booklets (same as in the UK) to double check if an item contained gluten and other allergens
• You can check out what we enjoyed doing in Gothenburg